Friday, December 09, 2005

Rivalry Weekend!

A few things to note today. First off, while I tend to believe that a write-up of either the UWM-South Dakota State game that I watched on TV, or the Wisconsin-UW-Green Bay game that I attended would be stale at this point, I’d like to get out a couple of random points about them, lest I should forget about them completely over time.

1) UWM’s getting closer to where they need to be with the new offense. I still think they’ll be deadly within their own conference, but fail to make waves in anywhere near the fashion that they did last season during the tournament.

2) So it appears UWM announcer Daron Sutton will be developing a one-game man-crush for every game this season. Against Memphis, it was Avery Smith. Against SDSU, it was Mark Pancratz. While I still think Sutton’s a bit over-the-top in his focus on one player once he gets excited, he’s got two things going for him so far. First, although Smith had a fairly uninteresting game against Memphis as Sutton was raving about him, he does appear to be rapidly improving, and becoming a key member of the Panther team. Second, Pancratz did take three charges against SDSU, so maybe some of Sutton’s praise was appropriate.

3) The stats don’t bear it out, but against Green Bay, Alando Tucker had one of the more impressive games that I’ve ever seen out of him. It seemed like he could just score if he felt like it in the second half. This is a much closer game without him. Yes, I know that’s pretty much always true, but this game finally drove home to me just how important Tucker is to the Badgers.

4) If you want a good approximation of what the Wisconsin-UW-Green Bay game looked like, look no further than my thoughts on the high school game the night earlier, because they were eerily similar. UW-Green Bay, much like Milwaukee Lutheran, was shooting an unbelievable percentage, and simply wilted in the second half when they couldn’t keep it up. And well, Wisconsin played with a bit more energy, as well.

5) Green Bay does, indeed, have lots of good young talent, and should, as advertised, be good in the future.

Enough of the distant past, though, since it’s rivalry weekend around these parts! The big one, of course, is the Marquette-Wisconsin game on Saturday afternoon. However, tonight Wauwatosa East and Marquette High also square off at the Al McGuire Center in perhaps the best public school-private school rivalry in the state. Both games are exciting to me because while I generally have tended to cheer for Marquette teams over the years, my education has come from the schools that fall on the non-Marquette side of the matchup. So if it wasn’t readily apparent to you beforehand (which it probably was), I’m going to have some major bias in favor of Wisconsin and Tosa East this weekend. Afterward, I’ll go back to cheering for the Golden Eagles and the Hilltoppers, but for the next two days, I’m forced by my past to hate all things named Marquette.

In anticipation of the games, however, I’d like to offer one of my non-traditional match-up breakdowns of the starting five for the college game.

The Ridiculous Athletes
(Marquette’s Dominic James vs. Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker)
Tucker has a vertical leap that’s unmatched in the history of Wisconsin basketball (okay, given Wisconsin’s history, that’s not saying much). James can dunk a ball with more ease than any 5'10" guy I’ve ever seen. Both are probably the most important players for their respective teams.

Edge: Tucker, because he’s an older, more proven player, even if he got shut down against Marquette last year in one of the most inexplicable man-on-man match-ups (vs. Chris Grimm) that I’ve ever seen.

The Tall, Skinny White Guys Who Are Bad In The Paint
(Marquette’s Steve Novak vs. Wisconsin’s Brian Butch)

Novak is probably the best spot-up shooter in college basketball, and is one of the most accurate shooters I’ve ever seen. He also attacks the hoop like a 14-year old girl who doesn’t want to mess up her uniform. To his credit, though, he’s been more aggressive inside the arc this year than in years past. Butch has one of the softest shooting touches that I’ve ever seen from a man of his height. He doesn’t shy from contact, but doesn’t exactly thrive on offense when he has to bang with people. Defensively, both are just a step slow.

Edge: Marquette. I think Butch has it all over Novak in terms of all-around game, but Novak’s one skill is just so good that you can’t deny him.

The Unfulfilled Potential Guy
(Marquette’s Ousmane Barro vs. Wisconsin’s Ray Nixon)
Both Barro and Nixon have physical attributes that would make any coach salivate. Nixon’s a 6'7" guy with guard skills and impressive athletic ability. Barro’s a post guy who was brought in as a project due to his athleticism and massively long arms, despite a lack of basketball experience.

Edge: Push. Nixon’s probably shown a bit more than Barro, but a lot of that is because he’s got two more years under his belt, so I’m not going to penalize Ousmane for that.

The Guy With The Father Who Played Pro Ball
(Marquette’s Wesley Matthews vs. Wisconsin’s Jason Chappell)
Matthews’ dad was a star at Wisconsin, while Chappell’s dad was an all-American at Wake Forest. Both played pro ball. Matthews, Jr. is a smooth freshman guard who appears to have the charisma and leadership skills of someone well beyond his years. The younger Chappell is one of the more aggressive post men for the Badgers, and has developed into a serviceable option for Wisconsin.

Edge: Marquette. If the game’s nearing the end and it’s still in doubt, Matthews is definitely going to be on the court. The same can’t be said for Chappell.

The Quick Guard
(Marquette’s Jerel McNeal vs. Wisconsin’s Kammron Taylor
McNeal is Marquette’s best on-the-ball defender, and has some seriously quick hands. Taylor is the best true guard that the Badgers have, and has the ability to do some serious scoring when he gets in a groove.

Edge: Wisconsin. McNeal has the potential to be a star, but he’s not there yet. Taylor’s the second-most indispensable player on a good Big Ten team.

Verdict: 2-2-1 (Tie)

So there you have it–based on my analysis of players with randomly similar attributes, this game will end in a tie. Most of the experts are predicting a Wisconsin win, but how can you argue with my logic? Of course, my analysis disappoints me somewhat, as I was hoping for a dominating Wisconsin win (again, I'm open with where my ultimate allegiances lie), but sometimes the facts are hard to handle.

Enjoy whatever games you see this weekend, but I guarantee that you won’t be having as much fun as me.


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